Can blue eyes see? asked the mandarin when he encountered European barbarians for the first time. Can blue-green eyes see? asks Past. Not at the Imperial Court of Peking, but in a European city like Zurich, a good three hundred years later. Not in a realm faced with the decline of its dominion, but on a continent that has lost its significance. The question about the ability of his eyes to see reminds Past, an ex-employee of an obscure cultural foundation and specialist for commemoration days and New Year celebrations, of incidents from his eventful life. It leads him back to almost all parts of the earth, it evokes penetrating stories and anecdotes, with a disturbing, intoxicating juxtaposition of continents, times and images in which boundaries and centres dissolve and the familiar is revealed in the alien and the alien in the familiar. A balance of an intensive life by an eternally curious man who thinks on a wide scale merely for professional reasons, and who is full of vitality, scepticism and thoughtfulness – and of a serenity reminiscent of the Far East.
»The motifs and associations that are touched on almost by chance combine to form a great – and magnificent – entity. With ›The Eyes of the Mandarin‹, Loetscher has created an evolutionary novel of human life with a feather-light touch and an inspired pen.«Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
»What a mixture of irony and philosophy, mundanity and the vernacular! What a sharp eye for multi-perspective and changing identity, brilliantly exploited by one of the most contemporary of German-speaking writers, the Swiss author Hugo Loetscher!«Freitag